Monday night will bare witness to one of the most anticipated matches in Premier League history. The league’s first and second will clash at the Etihad Stadium in a game that will almost definitely decide the title race.
Manchester United sit three points clear of rivals Manchester City, who up until recently were being dismissed from having any hopes of clinching the Premier League title for the first time in the league’s history.
City striker Mario Balotelli will be returning to action after serving a three-match ban for his red card against Arsenal earlier this month. It’s not known whether he will start.
Micah Richards, who picked up a hamstring niggle in City’s win over Wolves last week, will be available for selection.
Alex Ferguson is expected to replace Rafael from his full-back position with either Phill Jones or Chris Smalling, the youngster struggled in United’s 4-4 draw with Everton last week an is likely to have a place on the bench in tonight’s encounter.
City boss Roberto Mancini is confident going into tonight’s crucial clash, he told Football 365: “It is impossible to be worried for Monday yet.” he stated.
“It is football, not work. Maybe Monday morning there will be pressure, but this is normal for us or for United. But not now, I don’t think this.”
Also talking with Football 365, United boss Alex Ferguson was eager not to dismiss the importance of tonight’s match: “It means everything to a supporter. It is everything,” Ferguson told. “For both sets of supporters, going to work on Tuesday will be the most important day of their lives.
“People have been brought up to what they are through their fathers and their grandfathers and grandmothers. You can’t change a families traits.”
The game gets underway at 8pm this evening.
Tonight’s probable line-ups are as follows:
Manchester City: Hart, Pantilimon, Richards, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Savic, K Toure, Kolarov, Clichy, Milner, Johnson, Nasri, De Jong, Barry, Y Toure, Pizarro, Silva, Balotelli, Aguero, Tevez, Dzeko.
Manchester United: De Gea, Amos, Rafael, Jones, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Fabio, Evra, Valencia, Nani, Park, Scholes, Cleverley, Carrick, Giggs, Young, Rooney, Welbeck, Hernandez, Berbatov, Owen.